The effects of the hangover have worn off.
The dust has settled in terms of what’s going on on the field.
The disappointment of England’s defeat in the Euro 2020 final lingers, but with Qatar 2022 on the horizon, there is reason for optimism.
There are only 493 days between Gareth Southgate’s squad and the chance to redeem themselves at next year’s World Cup, where the Three Lions aim to win a major international tournament for the first time since 1966 after another year of improvement.
Southgate has showed faith in a core group of players, but also a willingness to introduce fresh faces into his England set-up, with seven of the 11 players who played in England’s 2018 World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia starting Sunday’s Euro 2020 final against Italy.
Injury permitting, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, and Harry Maguire could all depart for Qatar right now, but it would be a mistake to believe the England group is complete.
We’ve identified a few players to keep an eye on this season as they compete for a spot in the tournament, where they could prove to be the difference if England wins.
Mason Greenwood Image: Mason Greenwood would provide a steely edge to England’s assault After an outstanding domestic campaign with Manchester United, Greenwood was brutally robbed of a spot in this summer’s tournament by injury only nine days before it began.
It can never be known how England would have fared had the 19-year-old’s ice cold, razor-sharp, precision finishing been available to them, particularly in the tight final moments against Italy.
Greenwood, on the other hand, will be on the aircraft to Qatar if he can maintain the upward trend of his career in recent years, because a fit and firing Greenwood not only frightens defenses, but also helps ease the burden of Kane and Sterling.
Trent Alexander-Arnold Image: Injury denied Trent Alexander-Arnold a place in England’s final 26-man squad for Euro 2020. Alexander-Arnold’s Euro 2020 hopes were snatched away by a major muscle tear on the eve of the tournament.
Southgate described the situation as “heartbreaking,” but he wasn’t exaggerating.
Following his withdrawal from the England team earlier in 2021, the Liverpool defender had worked his way back into contention for his country, only to be denied the chance to prove himself on the grandest platform.
Alexander-Arnold can be encouraged by the fact that he is aware of Southgate’s future ambitions.
The 3-4-3 wing-back shape used by England is suitable for the right-back’s abilities, and a standout season with Liverpool will almost certainly secure his place in Qatar.
Joe Gomez was another Liverpool defender who suffered an injury while on international duty with England in November, ending his club season and any hope of playing in Euro 2020.
Southgate’s defensive options would surely be strengthened by the return of the Premier League and Champions League champion, who would assist simplify the deployment of a four- or three-man defense while providing good competition for Harry Maguire and John Stones.
If Gomez can reclaim the form that helped Liverpool win the Premier League the season before last, and possibly help bring the title back to Anfield this season, he will almost certainly be included in England’s squad for the trip to Qatar.
Jude Bellingham Image: England midfielder Jude Bellingham got a taste of tournament football at Euro 2020, but it was a bittersweet start for the Borussia Dortmund midfielder.
The disappointment of England’s heartbreaking final penalty shootout defeat and Southgate’s reluctance to give him game time beyond the quarter-final stage was offset by the fact that the 18-year-old, who was only 17 when the tournament began, walked away with three caps and 55 minutes under his belt.
Bellingham, on the other hand, showed exactly how gifted he is and how promising his future with England may be in just under an hour of play.
Bellingham has the opportunity to push Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips for the role of England’s midfield anchor in the coming season, with regular first-team action in the Bundesliga and Champions League at his disposal. It may all start in Qatar.
Harvey Barnes Image: Harvey Barnes made his England debut against Wales in October, but a knee injury kept him out of Euro 2020. At the start of the year, few players could boast higher numbers or be in greater form than Leicester’s attacker Harvey Barnes.
The 23-year-old’s first England cap came in a friendly win over Wales in October, and by February, he scored 13 goals in all competitions to propel Leicester City into Champions League contention.
Barnes was on track to represent the United States at Euro 2020, but like so many others, his promising season was cut short by a season-ending knee injury.
Barnes now faces the task of rekindling his promising form and remaining fit ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where his ability to link midfield and attack, as well as his unselfish defensive work, might be crucial assets in England’s desire to go one step further.
Ben White Image: Ben White was a surprising late addition to England’s 26-man side for Euro 2020 after Alexander-Arnold’s injury, but he didn’t play a single minute. White’s experiences training with, and initial exposure to Southgate’s squad, will have stood him in good stead.
White’s ball-playing ability were touted as a reason for his selection on the eve of the tournament, and it’s those qualities that Southgate might use in the future, with the centre-back’s versatility providing defensive and midfield alternatives.
With a summer move to Arsenal rumored, White’s stock could grow even higher if he has another strong Premier League season, so keep an eye on him.
Ben Godfrey was in contention to replace the injured Alexander-Arnold, but he did not make the cut. The Everton centre-back was included to Southgate’s provisional Euro 2020 squad, earning his first two England caps in warm-up matches against Austria and Romania.
Given England’s glut of right-sided defenders, it was nearly impossible for the untested 23-year-old to unseat some of the most dependable members of Southgate’s team for the tournament finals, but his initial selection should serve as indication that the England manager values his abilities.
Godfrey’s versatility saw him play across Everton’s backline last season, catching Southgate’s eye. Nevertheless, focusing on one position this season, nailing down a position, and contributing to a strong Everton defense could be enough for him to receive the nod.
Englands World Cup Stars For 2022 In Qatar Seven Players That Can Lead The Three Lions To Victory
The effects of the hangover have worn off.
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